Saturday was perfect. Fifty degree weather, sunshine, and a slight breeze...just enough to make it chilly but not freezing. After months of not working the yard, I needed to get outside and be one with nature, even if I did(do) have a cough that sounded(sounds) like I was(am) going to lose one if not both lungs at any moment. 

There wasn't really not much to do in the yard, still too cold for much of anything to grow. There was, however, raking to be done. A few errant leaves from the live oak that is always the last to lose its leaves in the fall and hundreds, no make that thousands, of these.

If you're not from these parts and are unfamiliar with what these freaks of nature are, these are the 'fruit' of a sweet gum tree. I Googled to see where the sweet gum is found and, according to a University of Florida web page, they are native from southwestern Connecticut, down to central Florida, then west to Texas and up into southern Illinois. It is a beautiful tree in the fall, its vibrant hues of yellow, red, orange and purple are breathtaking. Were it not for its breathtaking fall color, this tree would be history because of the fruit it bears. I'm telling you, these suckers hurt if you step on them barefooted. Not to mention that the ones that manage to hide from the rake will turn your ankle as you mow or become dangerous projectiles after a spin in the mower deck. So, in the interest of public safety, well mostly my safety, it was time to rake these freaks of nature.

After a couple of hours of raking I amassed three HUGE bags of the, as Hank calls them, porcupine balls...with perhaps yet another two bags left to rake. Wanna know how much each bag weighed? One hundred pounds! Yeah, crazy I know! Okay, maybe not one hundred pounds, hmm, more like thirty or forty. 

I quit after two hours because the gentle breeze had become a stiff wind and my coughing and nose blowing had become an every two minute event. Enough was enough. I look at what I had accomplished and it looked so lovely and pristine with nary a porcupine ball in sight, well there was one that fell as I took the picture.

Sad thing, there are still, hundreds, no thousands, no millions...well maybe not millions, of porcupine balls left on the tree.

Oy, vey.  Round two next Saturday. Wanna join me?

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